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Sep 252011

Tributaries (Black Numbers)

Opening summary: The Reveling’s sounds are as polished as any credible punk rock bands out there enjoying commercial success.

The Reveling are made up of Sean Morris (vocals, guitar), Dave Kramer (guitar, vocals), Dennis Murphy (bass, vocals) and Brendan McGroggan (drums). Tributaries is their third release, following their first two self-released albums (truly independent), 3D Radio EP in 2009 and the self-titled debut in 2008.

The ten tracks whiz through your listening and engaging ears. An easy explanation will be that exactly half of that number of tracks is under the duration of 3” minutes each, but even those that are not also delivered the same fast-paced feel. Not that it is a bad thing here. The songs are like short punk rock anthems, meant to please within a certain timeframe before the riot is silenced.

Lead singer Sean Morris has the dry and crispy voice that is oddly clear as well, as though he is trying to make some sense while punk-rocking it out with his fellow bandmates. Each member and the sounds of each musical instrument complement one another in certainty – whether it is the rolling of the drumbeats of the snare drums, or the occasionally coordinating/collaborative, occasionally conflicting relationship between every guitar and bass note strung. My first listen wasn’t originally ideal for the band or this review, but the album slowly gets to and grows on you, like a slow invasion of your heart, mind, body and soul.

The press release says much truth about the band and the album: “… manages to capture the spirit and fire that made that ’90s sound so vital – while simultaneously infusing its songs with the immediacy and melodic muscle that makes modern punk rock a powerful force in its own right.”

So, are you ready to punk rock? Well, are ya?


Official Site


MUSIC Comments Off
Feb 042011

VARIOUS ARTISTS The Emo Diaries, Chapter 12: I Love You, But In The End I Will Destroy You (Deep Elm)

The second word in the title probably describes it all about this (12th) installment in this series of compilation releases dedicated to unsigned, independent acts, and only unreleased, unheard-of tracks.

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Dec 062010

(Sham 69. From left to right, Al Campbell, Tim V, Ian Whitewood, Dave Parsons)

Apart from the Buzzcocks, Singapore has not had the privilege of playing hosts to any of the original wave of English punk bands that emerged in the late 1970s. Well, that oversight will be partially corrected when Sham 69 roll into town to play a one-night-only gig at Home Club (virtually the ‘go-to’ place for all things indie in Singapore). However, as with many bands still rocking on from the 60s and 70s, personnel changes are inevitable and only Dave Parsons remains from the original lineup. Completing Sham 69 circa 2010 are Tim V (vocals), Ian Whitewood (drums) and Al Campbell (Bass Guitar). In an email interview, lead singer Tim V, got upfront and very personal with the Power of Pop.

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BANQUETS This Is Your Concern, Dude 7″ (Black Numbers)

Banquets consists of a four-piece who are no strangers to the business of making energetic punk rock, dishing out a polished 4-course debut EP This Is Our Concern, Dude. But unlike contemporaries like Fall Out Boy and similarly punctuation-obsessed Panic! At The Disco, who bring out the snark and clever wordplay to carry the spark of rebellion, Banquets garnish their offerings with cultural digs, with titles like Lyndon B. Magic Johnson and I Wish I Were A Little More Lou Diamond Phillips. This recipe takes is not without risks, though, one of them being the alienation of listeners who might not appreciate the finer nuances of their All-American references– or at least, not appreciate them without copious help from Google (guilty as charged).

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SHELLSHAG Rumors in Disguise (Don Giovanni)

The guy Johnny “Shell” plays guitar (and sings) whilst the gal Jen “Shag” plays drums (and also sings). I know what you’re thinking – White Stripes, right? Well, yes and no.

I mean, sure, that “fact” ties Johnny & Jen to Jack & Meg somewhat but as I’ve often ranted and raved, its all about the songs. What do they say? Let’s put it this way, it’s refreshing to listen to a band that knows its shit y’know. At its most basic, Shellshag songs string together the history of lo-fi melodic fuzzed-up guitar rock drones – The Velvet Underground, the Stooges, T. Rex, the Ramones, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Guided by Voices, Pixies, Nirvana – all feature as choice inspirations for these stripped down paeans to pure rock bliss.

In songs like the groovin’ Resilient Bastard, the relentlessly drivin’ He Said She Said, the slowburning caustic Get Right and the primal Rock and Roll Ruined My Life, Shellshag demonstrate that they possess the right influences and the means to express them creatively to deserve the attention of all discerning rock lovers.

Fifteen tracks of consistently and dynamically intriguing songs with little filler merits a PoP recommendation. Check Shellshag out. NOW.

Free download – Crashing Rockets




Purported LCD Soundsystem’s final album, This Is Happening, is quite possibly one of the albums of 2010, as James Murphy (who is essentially LCD Soundsystem) continues to mash up post-punk electronic and old school punk aesthetics into a highly pleasing new entity.

Songs like first single Drunk Girls, One Touch and All I Want are instant pop classics for the ages, mixing up classic melodicism (Beach Boys, the Kinks, the Beatles) with edgy 80s post-punk sensibilities (Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, New Order, Human League). Which is a perfect combination of pop savvy and technical brilliance, in my book.

Tracks like I Can Change, You Wanted A Hit and Somebody’s Calling Me gloriously evoke the special synth pop period from 1979 to 1984, pop songs built out of a inventive use of electronics. Uncanny how Murphy is above to re-create this wonderful epoch but at the same time keeping it fresh and making it his own – a great achievement!

Official Video for Drunk Girls, directed by Spike Jones.

Official Site



LAFARO s/t (Smalltown America)

When I got in touch with Belfast indie label Smalltown America regarding And So I Watch You From Afar, the label requested a review on Lafaro. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with what I heard on their Myspace but didn’t let that stop me from asking for a review copy and now I’m certainly glad I did!

Pardon me, if I must declare that this is one of the hardest rockin’ debut LPs I’ve heard in too long a time. I mean, anyone can be heavy for heavy’s sake but to be able to make it exciting and visceral at the same time is a thrilling gift. Basically a perfect meeting of metal and hardcore punk – and I don’t mean metalcore – Lafaro’s face melting RAWK is something to behold.

Imagine if you must, the marriage of Metallica and Fugazi and the kick-ass attitude of Lemmy and you might just about get a glimpse of where Lafaro are coming from. Consisting of Jonny Black (guitar/vocals), Dave Magee (guitar), Herb Magee (bass) and Alan Lynn (drums), the band take no prisoners with pummeling yet catchy material such as the old school riff-tastic Tupenny Nudger, the drivin’ Chopper is a Fuckin’ Tout, the hectoring Not A Song and the Pixies-channeling Great Conversations Remembered: No 36 – Jeff Hinton.

Damn objectivity – I LOVE LAFARO!!!!!

Music Video of Tupenny Nudger below.

Official Site



LET’S WRESTLE In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s (Merge)

This album is the sort of freewheeling beautiful mess one would be expected to become obsessed with. I mean, Engish trio, Let’s Wrestle - Wesley Patrick Gonzalez (vocals and guitar), Mike Lightning (bass and vocals), and Darkus Bishop (drums) – like to play it as if they don’t give a fuck but listening to this fine LP, it’s clear that they obviously do. And they have the chops and attitude to match.

Don’t let the austere production and light arrangements fool you into believing that these songs are anything but well-crafted and finely-honed. Betraying catholic tastes that includes The Beatles, Neil Young, Pavement, Nirvana, Swell Maps, Pixies, The Raincoats, Bowie, Beach Boys, Fugazi, ELO, Dinosaur Jr, Buddy Holly, Black Sabbath, The Clean, Denim, Grandaddy, Husker Du, Wire, Yo La Tengo, Phil Spector (*whew*), Let’s Wrestle has delivered a quirky, melodic, spiky mini-masterpiece.

Free Download: We’re the Men You’ll Grow to Love Soon and check out the video below.



ANNIE STEVENSON 2010 EP (Self-released)

Scottish pop-rockers – Annie Stevenson – take the best of old school punk and 90s Britpop to deliver spiky, edgy  and tuneful songs that recall the likes of the Clash and Blur. This 4-track self-released EP gets better with each subsequent listening and I personally am impressed with the range of Annie Stevenson’s music, without sacrificing accessibility. Songs like the quirky Country Killer and I’m the One You Hold contrast well with the more straightforward rockin’ Get Off the Street and TV Took My Soul. A band that promises much.

2010 EP is available for free download here. Get it whilst you can!




NOFX Coaster (Fat Wreck Chords)

How do you keep your edge in an industry that moves faster than a celebrity’s ghost tweeter, much less satisfy your ever growing fan base after a span of 25 years? If you were taking a page out of NOFX’s book, then the answer is simple: Keep it real.

Fat Mike (vocals, bass) and the boys – Eric Melvin (guitar, vocals), Erik Sandin (drums) and El Hefe (guitar, trumpet, vocals) have emerged with their 12th consecutive album that has their seal of punk branded on every track. These guys are hailed as trailblazers in the punk rock genre for late Gen X-ers especially during the early to mid 90′s revival of the punk rock/skate punk movement – cases in point: The Offspring, Green Day, Bad Religion, Rancid, etc.

NOFX doesn’t disappoint with Coaster released on Fat Mike’s very own Fat Wreck Chords label which houses some of today’s influential acts on the punk scene. As usual, no subject is taboo and it doesn’t warrant any raised eyebrows especially when their material isn’t on heavy rotation on radio nor video veins. The band still exercises wit-whipped rantings on politics combined with their ever-evolving take on the usual subjects of religion, racism, inequality, capitalism and society in general. I have personally always admired their talent for witty word play and to have lyrics that make you smile, wince, frown and laugh out loud, all the while tapping your feet to the fast, melodic beats and riffs, it’s not something to sniff at.

Coaster kicks off with a fast punk rock track entitled We Called It America, a political satire on the current state of the country commencing with, “Remember when America had a middle class, and an upper class, that was way before the exodus…” and finishing off with “National bankruptcy, circumcised society, USA dined and ditched, Fox reports: poor is the new rich…”. The provocative riff on this track with Fat Mike’s trademark tone (turning the bass and treble all the way up, and the mids all the way down) is highly addictive.

The band’s take on religion is covered with Best God in Show and Blasphemy (The Victimless Criminals) sharing insights such as “Horus similar to Mithra, Attis analogous to Krishna, Jesus – different name same story, all based on ancient Egyptian allegory…”, which leads me to believe that the subject has been either thoroughly researched or that they’re recent viewers of the documentary Zeitgeist.

Tracks worthy of mention (if not every single one of them) include; Creeping Out Sara, a slower paced, tongue-in-cheek account of a back-stage conversation on lesbianism with either Tegan or Sara Quinn (Mike isn’t sure), one of the identical twins from band Tegan and Sara. Another track is the hilarious Eddie, Bruce and Paul which pays homage to Iron Maiden’s mascot and members (Dickinson and former Paul DiAnno) with a love triangle scenario, complete with the trademark Dickinson falsetto and the heavy metal guitar riffs.

The Agony of Victory (as opposed to the agony of defeat) is the band dealing with their success in a nonchalant manner, citing “We’ve got no competition, we’ve got no accomplished mission…” and My Orphan Year is a track where Mike speaks of his parents’ recent demise and memories of his lonely childhood.

The final track of the album aptly titled One Million Coasters is a dig at the music industry, coasters, frisbees and Christmas tree ornaments are one of the many current and future uses of compact discs (CDs), which would be the jest of the album’s chosen title.

Expect dives into ska and hard rock styles with a couple of the tracks, not overtly overwhelming but definitely in line with the messages and subjects in question. Again, not the best album from NOFX, if you’re using Punk in Drublic (1994) as a benchmark but definitely one for the fans and followers alike. Why? Because these guys are keeping it real.

Strictly for fans: NOFX have also released a DVD in March this year titled NOFX: Backstage Passport, which showcases their stints and stunts during their tour stops in countries where they felt punk music wasn’t too popular and this includes their antics during their stop in Singapore in 2007.

(Charlotte Lourdes)

You’ll find the trailer on their website and Myspace page.



THE QUEERS Alive in Hollyweird (Punk Rock Social)

A 32 track album that captures the band’s 2007 performance in LA was released with the DVD of the live show on March 24. The reason why they could fit 32 tracks on one CD – as any hardcore punk enthusiast would know, each live track is less than 3 minutes long, blending perfectly from one track to the next in organized chaos.

These guys love their Ramones and their Black Flag and its clearly evident in their tight, fast and melodic set. The brainchild of the band Joe Queer, is the only original member since its birth in 1982 – with roughly 30 changes in the band’s lineup since then. The band officially broke up in 1984 and had a new lease of life when Queer rounded up yet another new line up in 1990 and has been kicking it since then.

Word of caution though, these guys aren’t your anarchy-fused Sex Pistols with the angst of a whole generation screaming out in violence and pain. They have often been cited as representing punk with a combination of the legendary Ramones with the melodic chord repetition of the Beach Boys. So if you had always been afraid to experiment with Punk as we know it, The Queers would prove to be the baby steps that you need, before you delve deeper into the glorious abyss of desolation.

Granted the tracks are about the essential subjects of drugs, sex, waste and hate but it’s packaged in such a manner that you would be singing along to the tracks before realizing that this wouldn’t be an album you would be playing out loud when your folks are visiting. Think MXPX or NOFX but with old school tributes to the pioneers and a hint of Dropkick Murphys’ bouyant vocal stylings.

Check out The Queers’ Myspace page.

An Interview with Joe Queer is here: Let Purity Ring

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